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Recipe Time! Green Tomato Crisp!

The other day, as part of my Fall-To-Do-List-I’m-Determined-To-Really-Do-This-Year, I began shutting down the garden for the season. It’s one of those tasks that’s so thoroughly…fall. Cutting back spent perennials, pruning back shrubs, bagging leaves, splitting bulbs…taming all that stuff and taking care of this kind of ordinary business just feels so GOOD. I usually feel like a spectacular failure around this time of year because, inevitably, there’s always way too much renovation work to button up before winter, so tasks like these just fall by the wayside—so it feels like a huge mark of progress to be able to take the afternoon and just…putter around in the vegetables and set myself up for some highly successful spring planting in a few months. Little by little things are starting to feel rather civilized around here, as though the vision of living here that I’ve held onto in my mind is finally starting to align with reality. It doesn’t happen all at once, but it’s moments like this—out there in the crisp autumn air, peacefully yanking the languishing tomato plants from my modest backyard produce farm and wrangling them into a neat row of yard bags—that feel like glimpses into what life might look like someday. It ain’t bad.

Another major development has occurred: after 2+ years of hot plates and a small toaster oven, I have a working stove again! My kitchen itself is still a long ways from completion—almost everything in it is still “temporary,” except for said working stove—but it’s workable. And I am WORKING IT. Over the past week I’ve rediscovered the magic of roasted vegetables (didn’t realize how much I missed those!) and have baked like 7 different things. I don’t think of myself as some kind of great cook but I do enjoy it, and so restoring this basic functionality feels like a big deal.

SO! We’ve all heard of fried green tomatoes, yes? It’s, like, a thing in the South. I also vaguely remember my friend, originally from Tennessee, saying something one time about his mama’s Green Tomato Pie, a “this could come in handy someday” detail I catalogued somewhere in the back of my brain, only to have it reemerge as I looked down at all the green tomatoes still clinging to the plants I was about to rip out of the ground. So instead of just throwing it all in the yard waste bags, I collected all the remaining green tomatoes first and asked my friend for mama’s recipe.

He didn’t know the recipe. GREAT JOB, FRIEND. So I turned to google, looked at a few recipes, and decided I’d just make something up instead. Firstly, I didn’t want to make a pie crust. Secondly, the more traditional recipes I was finding struck me as extremely sweet with way too much sugar for my bland Yankee tastebuds. So instead of a pie I made it a crisp, and instead of the sticky-sweet filling I scaled way back on the sugar, plus I added some things, and then it occurred to me “wait, did I just develop a recipe? DOES THE INTERNET NEED TO KNOW?” so I’m going OFF BRAND to tell you all about it. This is when I take my dramatic turn as a food blogger. I have found my passion. Fuck houses; I’d rather eat.

So anyway. This is a dessert you can make with all those green tomatoes at the end of the season, and I don’t think it’s horrible for you as far as desserts go, and I really like it. The green tomatoes bake much like an apple, and the restrained use of sugar allows the tart green tomato flavor to come through without hitting you over the head with it. It’s a little weird but so far a limited selection of friends have confirmed that it is, in fact, pretty delicious so here we go.

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

3-4 Cups thinly sliced green tomatoes
4 Tbsp flour (I used an all-purpose Gluten Free flour)
1/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s, but any kind should do)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Crisp Topping:

1/2 Cup ground unsalted raw almonds
1/2 Cup ground unsalted raw cashews
3/4 Cup oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Wash your damn hands.

Step 2: In a large bowl, sprinkle flour over the green tomatoes and toss to combine. Throw in the rest of the filling ingredients and mix until all tomatoes are nicely coated. I used my hands. Transfer the filling to your baking dish in an even-ish layer (I used a 1 1/2-Quart round baking dish, but you do you).

Step 3. Grind your almonds and cashews. I used a coffee grinder, but whatever works (blender, food processor, mortar and pestle, rolling pin, laser eyes). Mostly you want a kind of coarse powder, like the texture of coffee grounds, but it’s good if there are still some larger chunks, like around the size of a…pencil eraser? Do what feels good. Choose your own adventure. Grind enough nuts to measure 1 cup and then transfer to a bowl.

Step 4. Melt the butter. I use the microwave. Mix the melted butter and the brown sugar, and then add the oats.

Step 5. Combine your buttery sugary oats with the ground nuts and mix until well-combined.

Step 6. Top your filling with the crisp topping in an even layer over the whole thing. It should be enough to provide good coverage! Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over it all—Maldon if you can; it’s the best! If you’re feeling fancy, distribute a few 1/2 T slices of butter on top before it goes in the oven.

Step 7. Bake at 350 for one hour, remove and let cool a little. You should see some of the filling bubbling up around the edges and the crisp topping starting to brown.

Step 8. Serve warm with ice cream! Or eat it however you want to! You’re a strong independent lady and you don’t need me to tell you how to enjoy dessert!

I Want to Live in The Knick.

Remember how my kitchen is completely gutted right now and I’ll soon be embarking on the wild ride of rebuilding it myself from scratch? I’m very excited about it. I’ve been trying to pull together a post telling you all about my plans, but it’s taking me forever! It’ll have to be next week. On the bright side, there are some dazzlingly basic SketchUp renderings coming your way, and on the BRIGHTER side, today we get to talk about my favorite thing in the world: TV.

I swear this is pertinent.

Have you watched The Knick? I feel like not many people have, because it airs on Cinemax and who knew that was even a thing. It premiered almost 3 years ago and has two seasons under its belt, so I’m really ahead of the curve on this one. The point is, you should watch The Knick. It’s a period drama beginning in 1900 about the Knickerbocker hospital in New York City, at a time when medical science was fucking crazy and everyone died from everything all the time. If you thought Victorians were insane with their woodwork and furniture, you should see what they were up to with surgical medicine. It’s nutso.

Anyway, The Knick is a good show. At least I think it is? It’s really well-acted, beautifully shot, nicely scored, and well-written. I’m mostly guessing about the last one, because honestly I have a difficult time paying attention to anything other than the sets. Oh-em-gee it is beautiful. I find myself constantly pausing and rewinding it to get a better look at the interiors. Ideally where this is headed is that I’ll just give the production director Howard Cummings and set decorator Regina Graves the keys to my house and just let them finish it up while I go on vacation. Or at least the kitchen. Somehow I’m guessing I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

The lobby and main corridors of The Knick…can you handle it? Look at that floor tile!! These and similar styles of brass light fixtures populate many of the interiors on the show and I am obsessed with them.

I mean, look at this. Shoot me full of typhoid and let me die here! I love how the wood floor is echoed with the beadboard ceiling, and I really love the simpler version of those sconces and ceiling fixtures. It’s all so good.

Those built-ins! Love love love love love love love. I love the sliding doors and the monochrome scheme. I feel like that sick lady isn’t appreciating it enough. You gonna die, sick lady. Better enjoy the view while you can.

One of the major players on the show is the surgical theater, which has an attached room for the doctors to scrub up before they operate. Again, I am all about this built-in situation, with the inset doors and the bead detail around the glass and whatever that caning situation is on the taller doors? I also love the marble slab wainscoting and, of course, the sconce above it. I pay a lot of attention to the different wall treatments on this show—plaster, natural stone, tile, beadboard, and other types wood paneling—and try to figure out how high up the wall they’re going and how high the sconces are in relation, and how tall the ceilings are supposed to be in relation to that, because it all just looks so fucking good. 

Also, if my doctor looked like Clive Owen, I’d be totally fine with him being a heroin addict and sewing my arm to my syphilitic face. Why not.

SORRY MY HEART JUST STOPPED HOLD ON. Guh. GUH! The floor. The lights. The beadboard wainscoting. It’s like, yeah, this is the room where patients basically all go to die, but the last thing they see is that light fixture! Lucky bastards.

I think my favorite space on the show is Dr. Thackery’s office/lab place. I want to just pick up this room and re-install it in my kitchen and make no more decisions. I love the black hex floor with the light grout. I love that table. I love the lighting. I love the black cabinets and moldings, and the subway tile, and the beadboard wall mixed in over there on the left. It’s all just so good. I’m a huge fan of the color palette in general on the show—a lot of black, white, wood, and brass, yes, but also a lot of light greys and beiges and earthier, more subdued tones I wouldn’t necessarily think I liked. It’s all just perfect.

You could go a million different ways with my kitchen considering everything from the floor to the ceiling will be brand new, but at the end of the day I want it to look like a turn-of-the-century hospital as imagined by some really talented set designer people in 2014. I don’t understand why this is too much to ask. I’m stoked about this traditional-modern-utilitarian vibe, which I think will feel at home in this house while also being simple and modest and unfussy.

OH AND ALSO! The kitchen is one step closer to becoming reality thanks to ALL THE AMAZINGLY BADASS MANHATTAN NEST READERS who voted for that laundry room makeover on Angie’s List! I won! You won! You made me win! I don’t know! I’m so grateful and flattered and full of warm fuzzies! So now I have $2,000 in winnings to immediately blow on the plumbing for my kitchen, which is an enormous help. Thank you, thank you, thank you. #tooblessed

P.S.—This article + interview with production director Howard Cummings and set decorator Regina Graves is cool, if you want to read more about the design of the show!

P.P.S—The Knick is currently available to watch on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Max Go!

Pumpkin the Raccoon!

YOU GUYS! I honestly couldn’t believe the unbelievable response to the Lowe’s Spring Makeover thingy majiggy that I posted about last week. I was expecting…I don’t know, maybe 10 or 12 applicants? Well, I got a WHOLE LOT more than that and I’m super duper flattered and touched by the whole thing. Who knew! This selection process is going to be long and grueling, mostly because I so badly want to do pretty much all of them!

OK, enough exclamation points.

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WAIT JUST KIDDING BECAUSE OMG CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!!!!

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This is Pumpkin the raccoon. I found her on Instagram. I’m obsessed with her.

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I don’t know a ton about Pumpkin. Pumpkin was rescued as a lil’ baby raccoon and taken in by these folks who treat her more or less like a cat or a dog. She’s a chubby little lazy thing who doesn’t seem to mind her dope lifestyle one bit. I wish I could make myself tiny enough to use her plump belly as a bed.

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Raccoon hands!!!!! They kill me. I can’t. I just can’t.

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I think my favorite aspect of Pumpkin’s life is her relationship with her dogs, Oreo and Toffee. I’m guessing Pumpkin thinks she is a dog, but she’s clearly not a dog.

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You know what’s cuter than two dogs cuddling with each other? A dog cuddling with a RACCOON! Interspecies friendships are perhaps the highest-ranking cute activity, and Pumpkin has it down. I love Toffee and Oreo for allowing this! I’m going to go ahead and guess Mekko would not be quite so accommodating. I guess no rescued pet raccoon for me, but we all have our crosses to bear. I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through this magical instagram.

I just had to tell you. Every time I think I’ve found all the cute animals on instagram, I find new ones. I hesitate to ask, because, like, how many is too many to follow? but if you’re kinda the same way, who are your favorites?

Patterned Shirts for the Dudes!

Lately I’m really into shirts with exciting patterns on them. I mean, I like patterns on other things outside of my body, but I’ve always been more of a solid/stripe/plaid kind of guy, shirt-wise.

No more. Gimme a good pattern and I will wear it and feel happy about wearing it.

Here’s the thing with patterned shirts on the gentlemen: you don’t want to be described as, “you know, that guy who always wears the crazy shirts.” At least I don’t. I don’t want to be a “loud” dresser, because people who dress “loudly” tend to be super annoying and I don’t want to be super annoying, or give people good reason to think I will be based on how I’m dressing.

So you have to find the good patterns so you don’t look like an irritating clown. How do you do that? I think like this. First, you limit the colors. A crazy pattern with only a couple of colors will look less nuts than a more simple pattern with a bunch of colors. Second, I like to steer toward abstracts and away from things that are literal/legible, like little floating anchors or even florals. I own a few good florals but they’re tough to get right and can go silly/kitschy/cutesy real fast. Third, I like to pair a good pattern with normal stuff like a simple pair of classic jeans—you don’t want multiple elements of your outfit calling out for attention because then you will look crazy.

Look at me, writing with fake authority on fashion. HA. So, boys. Point is, according to me, you can totally rock a shirt that’s a little weird without looking nuts. I do it all the time and nobody has ever explicitly told me I look nuts so I assume we’re all good. Here’s a little round-up of some shirts I’m into right now to carry me through the rest of summer and into fall:

ABSTRACTS

1. Navy Print Short Sleeve Smart Shirt, Topman, $30

2. Slim-Fit Cloud Print Shirt, Club Monaco, $89.50

3. Blue Aztec Print Short Sleeve Casual Shirt, Topman, $50

4. Navy Paint Print Short Sleeve Smart Shirt, Topman, $50

 

POLKADOTS

1. Selected Homme Blue Geo Long Sleeve Shirt, Topman, $85

2. Selected Homme Black Slim Fit Shirt, Topman, $20

3. Classic Fit Ditsy Dot Shirt, Club Monaco, $27.30 with code THESALEONSALE

4. Short-Sleeved Cotton Shirt, H&M, $14.99

 

ABSTRACTS2

1. Slim-Fit Indigo Cross Shirt, Club Monaco, $48.30 with code THESALEONSALE

2. Weekday Shirt Happy Times Grandad Collar Sumi Print, ASOS, $73

3. ASOS Shirt in Short Sleeve with Paint Print, ASOS, $40

4. Navy Confetti Drapey Short Sleeve Smart Shirt, Topman, $50

 

IKEA, Fakesgiving, and some stuff I like.

I was one of those kids who was really interested in the private lives of my teachers. In third grade, I still had trouble reading words over about 5 letters long, but I knew where my teacher was from (Louisiana), her daughter’s name and age (Alexa, age 14), where she lived (a townhouse not far from us), the breed, age, and weight of her dog (Beagle, Rocket, approx. 40 pounds—he was a sausage), his diet to help him slim down (mixing canned green beans into his dog food), among plenty of other stuff. All of the arbitrary details that my instructors would just sort of offhandedly mention somehow got filed into this creepy subconscious Catalogue of Important Facts in my young brain, which evidently didn’t leave a lot of room for stuff like multiplication and division. Those things took way longer for me to pick up.

I’m still basically like this. I often forget what some of our close friends even do for a living, but I remember exactly where they’re from, where they went to school, when, how, and where they met their longterm boyfriend (whose occupation I similarly cannot recall), the name of their childhood family dog. It’s a mild issue in my life.

In college, I had this amazing writing professor. I loved him. Everything on the syllabus was so good and stuff I’d never read before, and his critique was always spot on, and he was just the best. He was a Serious Writer—published many times over, awarded, that type of thing—and the other students seemed to split between about 10% total reverence and 90% complete fear. It was a seminar-style class so really that 10% represents 1 person. Maybe 2. But anyway. He was great.

Why was he great? Well, I can’t totally remember by most typical metrics. Writing. Awards. I told you more or less what I know already. But one thing I do know is that he lived in Red Hook in Brooklyn, which is where IKEA is. And one time after class I casually asked if he ever went to IKEA for lunch, or just to hang out, because I’d probably do that if I lived within walking distance. And that’s when it started.

“Oh my god, have you seen the new PS collection? So much good stuff.”

“I really need a new sofa, but I can’t decide between the KARLSTAD and the KIVIK.”

“The only thing I miss about my old apartment is my PAX wardrobe. That thing was magic.”

It turned into a weekly thing. 3 hour seminar, followed by hour-long conversation outside about the merits of various IKEA products and our general, genuine love for the place. We were kindred IKEA spirits, and it was beautiful. This one time, another student tried to join in and make the case that IKEA was not all we were cracking it up to be, and things did not end well for that student. Because here’s the thing: whether you like the IKEA shopping experience or assembling the products or the products themselves at all, these things don’t negate that IKEA, I think, is the only company that has actually fulfilled the promise of modern design. Mass produced, affordable, well-designed products for regular people. That’s pretty exceptional. In the world of IKEA, nearly anybody is entitled to live with good design. I don’t really think of myself as having a lot of fondness for multi-billion dollar corporations, but clearly I have a soft spot.

A few weeks ago, something happened: IKEA approached Max and me about putting together a little Thanksgiving story. Since obviously it would have to run before actual Thanksgiving, I have been referring to it as Fakesgiving. They wanted Max to do the photography and post about it on Design*Sponge (where he’s senior editor now—go Max!), but I guess they wanted me to be in a picture or two and help style and then tweet about it. At first I was like…”wait, I’m not even supposed to write my own post? But I have so much to say!” But then I was like…”screw it, I’m going to write a post anyway.” So we decided on kind of a simple, modest Scandinavia-meets-Hudson-Valley vibe, got to go pick up a few IKEA products I’ve had my eye on, cook a bunch of food, and set up Fakesgiving in our dining room at 2 in the afternoon. It was a good practice run for when we do it for real. Then we invited a couple of friends over that night, stuck everything back in the oven for a bit, and pretended it was all for them.

So there. The Thanksgiving story is posted over on Design*Sponge, featuring a couple of recipes I made and some nice pictures of our dining room all gussied up. Instead of rehashing that post here, I woke up this morning thinking it might be fun to throw together a few of my current favorite IKEA products—some new, some old standbys. Just, you know, because. For the love of it I guess.

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1. RYSSBY 2014 Pitcher: How very adorable is this sweet enameled pitcher thing? It’s got that classic rustic kind of vibe I like for our house because it blends nicely with vintage/antique serving ware and whatnot. I don’t think I’ll ever get over my enamel phase.

2. RYSBBY 2014 Throw: We threw this on top of my DIY bench at Fakesgiving, and it’s so cute! We already have a couple of heavy-duty thick wool blankets around the house, so I actually like that this one is on the thinner side—easier to throw over the arm of a couch or a chair and just a nice, cozy throw. So classic and sweet.

3. FULLFÖLJA Scissors: I haven’t seen these in person, but that’s a cute set of scissors! I love IKEA for useful, pretty, simple items like this. Their stainless steel and wood spoons are almost all we have in our kitchen for cooking utensils, and the quality is excellent.

4. UTBUD Serving Bowl: For some reason I can’t seem to find this on the website, but this bowl is really nice! It’s very sizable—perfect for serving big salads and stuff like that. We have a lot of vintage/antique stoneware bowls I’ve collected here and there (Max has actually put a moratorium on bowl-buying…lame), but I generally only really use them for dry foods like breads and nuts and stuff. This one mixes in seamlessly with the collection, but without possibly hazardous lead in the glazing and wear from years of use. It’s delightfully heavy.

5. SENIOR Casserole + Lid: When I bought this pot about a year ago, I actually considered writing a whole post about it because it’s just that nice. The outside is enameled cast iron and the inside is cast iron, and the whole thing is appropriately thick and weighty. I’ve grown to really like cooking on cast iron—it retains and distributes heat so well, and a well-seasoned pot/pan is fairly non-stick by nature. This one leaves nothing to be desired, honestly—it’s the highest quality piece of cookware I own, and it’s good-looking. I don’t own the smaller casserole or the pan, but I always really want to buy them if only just to round out the set in case they get discontinued.

6. TEKLA Dish Towel: I love the simplicity of the TEKLA dish towel. I use them for tons of stuff, but I like for mine to go through a very specific cycle: when they’re new, they make really pretty, casual-fancy napkins (especially in the DIY copper napkin rings I made for Fakesgiving!). Once they get a couple stains that don’t come out in the wash, they turn into dish towels. Once those start to wear out or get a little ratty looking, they go into the cleaning/shop rag category. Not bad for a 79-cent item!

7. KASTRULL Pot: As soon as these came out (there’s a smaller saucepan, too), I really wanted an excuse to buy one or both. Fakesgiving was my excuse. They’re just very adorable. Since they’re enamel over fairly thin steel, these probably aren’t going to cut it as everyday cookware, but they’re great for things like sauces and soups (and gravy, Fakesgiving style). I learned this the hard way with my Dansk-Kobenstyle pot, which is similar—thinner enamel cookware just doesn’t hold up well to cooking where stuff is liable to get stuck. But anyway. Cute.

8. GUNNERN Lockable Cabinet, Red: I just bought one of these recently, and the quality is GREAT. It actually came all in one piece, too! I like that it locks, because I like secrets.

9. SANNOLIKT Curtain Rod: Woah, hold the phone. I’m really weirdly into this curtain rod, and this is coming from somebody who really struggles (insofar as one can really struggle) with curtains. A big part of my issue with curtains is that finding a good rod is tough. This one I could get down with, though, and I can see it working well in all kinds of spaces. I’ll have to check it out in person next time I’m there, but this picture has me intrigued.

10. RYSSBY 2014 Cushion Cover: I keep my eyes out for fun, graphic throw pillow covers (I feel like it’s surprisingly hard to find good ones) and these are cute! Printing it on the unbleached linen/cotton blend really makes it, I think. The two sides also have different designs, so it’s kind of like two pillows in one! I like a ton of the stuff from the RYSSBY linethe cake stand has this same pattern on it, and we used that to serve pie at Fakesgiving. In other news, I have a cake stand now! FANCY. PANTSY.

Remember to go check out Fakesgiving on Design*Sponge! Is IKEA part of your holiday tablescapes?

I can’t believe I just wrote “tablescapes.” LOL.

But seriously I want to know.

This post is kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really in partnership with IKEA USA? Thanks, Big Blue n’ Yellow!

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